He never even touches the handlebars!

“Do you see what that means? It means that history is not simply the building of the city or the finding of the city; it is the growth of the city in a high mystery. It means that there are no short cuts. No neat little mystiques that will make it pop up automatically; no fancy fates that will drop it down, ready-to-install, from the realm of pure ideas; not even a God who will push it down your throat willy-nilly. It will indeed grow up from the earth, but not by a mystique; and it will indeed in some sense come down from heaven, but not by miracle. It will grow up in the mystery of the real and substantial interactions of things that can act for themselves; and it will come down in the mystery of an omnipotence that rules by grace and not by force. When it comes for the first time, it will have been here long since; when it comes for the last, it will be, astonishingly, the same thing.

Have I given my whole case away? Have I locked the mystiques out of the front door only to let them in at the back? I don’t think so. It is mystery that saves me. But mystery in earnest, not just puzzle. Mystery as God’s inscrutable way of doing business. Mystery as the way he steers the bicycle of history with his hands in his pockets. Nobody is shoved, nothing is jimmied; nothing need ever be anything but true to itself. He never even touches the handlebars! Pilate is Pilate and Caiaphas is Caiaphas; Peter is Peter, and John is John; the soldiers are soldiers, and the women are themselves; the nails are iron, and the cross is wood. All in their own natures, all acting for themselves: the creatures of a God powerful enough not to have to use inside mystiques or outside clubs; of a God who can afford anything; of a God who can do nothing but hang there and still ride history home no-hands.”

– Robert Farrar Capon, An Offering of Uncles: The Priesthood of Adam & the Shape of the World (50).


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